‘Whatever the medication is doing, it’s keeping me going’

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As scientists release a study showing that anti-depressants work, some users of the medication share their experiences on how it has affected their lives.

Authors of a report published in the Lancet, found 21 common anti-depressants were all more effective at reducing symptoms of acute depression than dummy pills.

Agomelatine, Amitriptyline, Escitalopram, Mirtazapine and Paroxetine are thought to be among the most effective forms of the drug.

Jon in Kent

‘Whatever the medication is doing, it’s keeping me going’
‘Whatever the medication is doing, it’s keeping me going’

Jon has taken the anti-depressant Citalopram for the last six years. This medication helps him deal with the stress and anxiety of everyday life.

He says he was initially reluctant to take the drug: “I thought anti-depressants would turn me into a zombie but they keep me in the moment.

“My depression was brought about by pressures at work, concerns over money and family worries. I felt I needed help to deal with all of that. My GP suggested anti-depressants and I eventually succumbed. I thought the drugs would stop me being me.”

Jon says he experiences side effects including both flu-like symptoms and increased anxiety.

“I would like to wean myself off the anti-depressants because I don’t know what the long-term impact of taking them will be, but it’s not the right time.”

Jon has also referred himself for counselling and has also begun daily mindfulness exercises.

Pearse in Northumberland

Bed ridden due to depression whilst on a range of anti-depressant drugs, Pearse finds Mirtazapine and Escitalopram ease his symptoms considerably.

He is taking 60mg of Mirtazapine a day, which he says is the “highest dose allowed in the community”. He explains that to be given more medication would require a hospital visit.

Pearse does experience a sedative like side effect but says this is useful due to his unspecified personality disorder.

As a result of the disorder, Pearse avoids social situations. He says he is very anxious due to a trauma he experienced in his past and even with the medication, he finds it difficult to leave his house.

Pearse says he has been in and out of hospital for over 40 years from the age of 18.

“I have found therapy useless – psychologists and psychiatrists made me feel worse.”

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Katharine in Somerset

Katharine told the BBC she has been treated for many years with a combination of anti-depressants and talking therapies.

“I’m still on anti-depressants and I may be on them for the rest of my life, but that’s fine,” she says.

“If I do stop taking them, after a while I start to experience the symptoms of depression again; the very low mood, the weepiness, the rattiness and then I know I have to start taking them again. But the talking therapies have helped me to understand the underlying causes.”

Stuart in Colchester

Stuart says he was “finally” diagnosed with bipolar disorder 20 years ago.

“I was mentally exhausted, I could not focus from day-to-day due to depression.”

As a result, Stuart was prescribed Citalopram for six months in 1999 which he says brought him “back from the depths”.

Between 2000 and 2012, he has returned to the drug three or four times. He says the Citalopram had the effect of, “preventing the extremes of bipolar but was restricting my creativity”.

“I was on another drug called Sertraline but that made me physically sick. But now I’m on Fluoxetine which has been brilliant for me.

“I’ve not had any extreme manic or depressive episodes. Whatever the medication is doing, it’s keeping me going.”

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